Are you ready for a glimpse into a world quite foreign from yours? And like me are you curious about life in Appalachia, coal mining and snake handling? I was impressed by the cast’s ability to give us insight into such a different world, I confess to being quite grateful that their world is not mine, but I gained a greater respect for what drives them to make the choices they do.
The play shows a snippet of life in an Appalachian town with the dangers of coal mining and snake handling just being a part of everyday life. I was impressed by the cast’s ability to give us insight into such a different world, I confess to being quite grateful that their world is not mine, but I gained a greater respect for what drives them to make the choices they do.
I was intrigued having decades ago lived briefly, doing research, in coal mining county where West Virginia, Virginia, and Virginia come together where serpent handling at church was a big deal, although I never ventured into one of those churches. Being a coal miner and the lifestyle of coal miners is another concept that is foreign to most of us. My grandfather died of black lung when I was young but he never talked of his coal mining days. I just watched not understanding why he had such a hard time breathing, coughed so much or seemed to waste away.
Hannah Jo Black who plays Cindy, the young woman with a troubled past who is trying to decide whether or not to take up serpents spoke to me about her role in the play. She likes the role and found it quite different from the light and bubbly roles she normally portrays. She had done much research on her own to learn more about Appalachia where coal mining and snake handling have been a way of life for many. When asked why people should come to see this show, she responded that this gives people insight into what for most of us is an unknown way of life or something we just make fun of.
Playwright, Garret Mathews, a retired columnist from the Evansville Courier and Press, had spent some time in West Virginia and visited the snake handling churches. The play is fiction and based on an interview with a young woman who was trying to decide whether or not to take up snake handling. This is Garret Mathews fourth entry into Indy Fringe.
Because of adult themes, I would recommend this for high school and older. It’s a serious play but does have it’s funny moments.
Go see They Shall Take Up Serpents.